Disclosing Chinese Officials’ Wealth Faces ‘Difficulties’: Anti-Corruption Head

January 1, 2013 Updated: October 1, 2015
Wang Qishan attends a joint press conference after the fifth China-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue on Dec. 5, 2008, in Beijing. Wang is heading up the new anti-corruption effort. (Guang Niu/Getty Images)

China’s anti-corruption campaign, said to be urgently needed to save the Party and the state, and launched with much fanfare, may turn out to be a toothless measure, after all.

Wang Qishan, China’s new Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection summoned eight professionals for a special meeting on Nov. 30. Six of the eight expressed the need for a system of having Party officials disclose their financial assets, according to a Dec. 29 report by the Economic Observer, a financial website based in Shandong. 

Peking University professor Jiang Mingan, one of the professionals at the meeting, told the Economic Observer that while Wang expressed his confidence in getting the process of asset disclosure started, he also stated that there would be “difficulties.” 

Chinese netizens have been jumping on the anti-corruption bandwagon with great enthusiasm helping expose corruption cases. But many netizens now doubt the Chinese regime’s sincerity in fighting corruption. 

Bloomberg quoted one netizen saying sarcastically, “There would be no more difficulties once the eight large families have transferred all their money and properties.”

The “eight large families” are the descendants of an elite group of former revolutionary fighters who led China’s economic opening after Mao’s death and amassed enormous wealth and influence. 

Wu Shuping, a Guangdong microblogger, commented on the slow progress of getting public officials to declare their wealth as compared to the speed displayed by the National People’s Congress in passing the recent bill on Internet user disclosure. 

Wu told his one hundred thousand subscribers: “The new Internet security act took merely two days to enact—from Dec. 27, when the draft was passed, to voting on the bill on Dec. 28—as opposed to the 18 years, and ongoing, since the discussion for disclosure of public officials’ wealth started. And yet there is still no resolution in sight in the foreseeable future. For sure, the Internet is not exempt from the law, but politicians are.” 

Earlier in 2012, Lei Chuang, a postgraduate student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, submitted a letter to the Party’s 53 central departments, asking for the disclosure of their salaries, the Economic Observer said. 

Lei was hoping at least one high-ranking official would be willing to come forth and declare his income, but none did, even though Lei received replies from 40 departments, the article said. 

Lei predicted that even for the lowest ranking government officials it would take 10 years to expose their salaries, and 20 to 30 years before all officials’ salaries would be made public. 

China Youth Daily concurred with Lei’s prediction, saying 20 years is “not slow but quick for such a giant country as China.” 


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